*Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed has received an Eritrean delegation that includes Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab, who arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, to discuss resolution of a long standing border dispute.
The delegation was received by Abiy at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
HE PM Dr Abiy Ahmed warmly welcomes the Eritrean delegation at Bole Airport. This marks the 1st high level contact nearly two decades of stalemate. HE PM Abiy will host the delegation & hopes the visit will lay the foundation for a much brighter future for. #Ethiopia #Eritrea pic.twitter.com/PAGwRnIlDt— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) June 26, 2018
Olympic athletes, singers, actors and religious leaders were also at the airport where Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and other top officials were presented with garlands of flowers. The flags of both countries fluttered from lampposts in Addis Ababa along with a banner reading “Welcome!”
Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 following a three-decade liberation war but conflict erupted between them once again in 1998 over their disputed border, with diplomatic relations broken off ever since.
The visit comes after Ethiopia said it would fully accept the Algiers Agreement and decision of the Ethio-Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC), which awarded the disputed town of Badme to Eritrea.
Eritrea welcomes Ethiopia’s peace offer
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said last week he welcomed what he called Ethiopia’s “positive messages” and decided to send his first official delegation to the government in Addis Ababa in two decades.
Eritrea fought a border war with its larger neighbour that killed about 80,000 people, but both sides remain at odds over the status of the frontier town of Badme. The border has remained militarised ever since.
Abiy, who was at a rally hit by a grenade attack on Saturday, has made a series of other startling announcements since he took office in April, including plans for the partial privatisation of the state-run telecoms monopoly and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines.
Eritrea and Ethiopia broke off diplomatic relations two decades ago, although Asmara has a permanent delegation in Addis Ababa representing it at the African Union, whose headquarters are in the Ethiopian capital.
No Eritrean representatives have been part of an official visit for talks with the Ethiopian government since at least 1998.